There is a fascination to walking through the most dangerous hiking trail in the world. For some, it’s a glimmer of curiosity; for others, it’s an irresistible attraction. Something deep within us yearns to add a little bit of risk into the sheltered life we lead these days. We want to compare ourselves to others and test our boundaries.
Here are 10 paths that will have your adrenaline racing and possibly have you hanging on for dear life.
1. Huayna Picchu, Peru
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a difficult trip that claims a few lives each year. The true danger begins when you continue beyond the mythological city and climb Huayna Picchu, often known as the “Hike of Death.” The ancient Inca staircase is made of granite and climbs 1,000 feet in less than a mile. Furthermore, the path is riddled with rotten, crumbling rock, slippery stones, and exposed corners. Clouds and mist make the journey more challenging, and hikers must cling to ancient steel cables in some areas.
2. Angel’s Landing, Utah
Most of this 2.5-mile trail is reasonably passable, but the final half-mile makes Angels Landing one of the most deadly trails in the world. The final half mile involves walking up a narrow and steep slope with frightening drop-offs on both sides. All that stands between you and the cliff’s edge are chains and guardrails fastened to the cliff. Even with these safety measures in place, the walk is unsettling, but if you can continue, you will be rewarded with some of the most stunning views imaginable.
3. Snowmen Trek, Bhutan
The Snowmen Trip is Bhutan’s most difficult trek due to its high heights and steep ascents. This walk, which begins in Paro and ends 24 days later in Nikka Chhu, is not for the faint of heart. The trek’s many hardships are exacerbated by the trek’s high elevation passes, remoteness, and adverse weather conditions. It’s a summer-only excursion because the path is frequently closed due to snow, so there’s only a small window of opportunity for hikers interested in taking on this adventure. Prepare to be awestruck by breathtaking views of the Himalayas, lush valley sceneries, deep forests, and snow-capped mountain peaks.
4. Mount Hua Shan, China
This hike is widely regarded as the most dangerous in the entire world. The hiking trail on Mount Huashan, which was originally intended for pilgrims traveling to the temples at the top, is now visited by visitors from all over the world for its ‘plank walk in the sky.’ Hikers have to climb a vertical ladder carved into the rocks, supported only by rusting chains, in order to reach the planks. The route’s final destination offers a breathtaking panorama of the surrounding mountains.
5. The Maze, Utah
About 2,000 people visit Canyonlands National Park’s most isolated area each year, and this isn’t because it isn’t worthwhile. The Maze, a maze of red sandstone, is hard to find, nearly impossible to traverse, and full of dead-end valleys. There have been no fatalities in the area, despite a double suicide that occurred in the summer of 2013. This is due to the area’s inherent hazard, which rangers emphasize to any visitors by demanding thorough itineraries and effective communication.
6. El Caminito del Rey, Spain
The King’s Little Pathway began as a network of pathways for workers of a local hydroelectric plant and is now a strong candidate for the title of most dangerous hike in the world. Years of neglect, however, have transformed these three-foot-wide walkways into crumbling concrete barely supported by rusted timbers. Although safety wire runs the length of the 2-mile trail, it is far from secure. This hike does not require much equipment, although rock climbing skills are required.
7. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
This trail is quite challenging because of the rising water levels, congested trails that are perched on the edge of 300-foot drops, constant rain, muck, and flying pebbles. The figures speak for themselves: in recent years, 121 trapped hikers needed to be rescued from the trail, one hiker was killed after falling to his death on the trail, and another was swept down Hanahoa stream.
8. Cascade Saddle, New Zealand
The Cascade Saddle trail in New Zealand’s Mount Aspiring National Park is notorious for being extremely difficult, even for experienced hikers. Numerous fatalities have occurred there over the years as a result of the challenging navigation, real risks like rockfalls and avalanches, exposure to the elements, and technical terrain including narrow ridges and difficult scrambling. The trail is likely to be exceedingly slick in wet weather, and a fall could be lethal.
9. Via Ferrata, Italy and Austria
The Via Ferrata (Italian for “iron way”) was originally scaled by Europeans in the 15th century using ladders, and specialist forces later used the route during World War I. New steel cables, ropes, timber walkways, and suspension bridges have made routes through the Dolomites significantly more accessible. The routes and cables are well-maintained, however, securing a specialist carabiner set to the anchors on the cable supports is crucial for your safety. Deaths have occurred on routes of every level of difficulty and in a variety of situations.
10. Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa
The beginning of this 40-mile hike inside Natal National Park is the most difficult section. To get to the trailhead, which is well known for its breathtaking vistas, you must climb two chain ladders. According to estimates, 55 persons passed away at the Drakensberg Traverse before 1985, when the deaths were no longer recorded. As the trail includes animal footprints and rock scrambles, you can picture the risk one might confront there. However, despite being one of the world’s most hazardous trails, the sights more than makeup for it.